IVCC Baseball coming in February

By William Linn, IV Leader Sports Editor

The 2017 spring semester is about to get a lot more interesting. The Eagles baseball team will begin games this February, and this year the team will sport 25 players. This group, filled with depth and youth, has high expectations for this year. Head Coach Jason Goode spoke on what he believes his team can accomplish.

“All 25 players are going to be expected to contribute,” said Goode. “With that being said, we feel that we can compete for both the conference and region championships.”

Defense is a key for any team that wishes to compete for championships, and Goode feels that this group should show off the leather all spring.

“We feel our strengths are that we will have an elite defense, two deep at every spot, as well as offensive versatility. [We] have the ability to start a right or left-handed batter at every position in the lineup, and also the depth throughout the lineup should be a strength. Guys who were number 3 hitters in high school [will be] batting 7-8-9 for us. Our weakness will be experience, as we are freshman heavy this year,” Goode said.

The ability to have a left or right-handed hitter at any/every point in the lineup is amazing. That type of versatility is every manager’s dream, it keeps the advantage with the offense. A lot of these goals and expectations derive from this past fall season, where the team had quite a bit of success. Yet the inexperience is a problem the coaching staff plans to touch on early in the year.

“We are trying to expedite these growing pains, by playing one of the harder early season schedules we could,” Goode stated. “… When it comes to specific freshman, guys like Brady Huebbe, Garrett Zinke, Neal Stassi, Kray Wheeler and Adam Sangston have always been considered the best players on their team, since they were in Little League. So bringing them all together should provide an air of confidence knowing they are all playing together, as opposed to competing against one another.”

The Eagles will play in the John A. Logan and Southern Illinois University tournaments early in the year, as well as the Myrtle Beach tournament. Hopefully the early difficulty will help this team with its lofty goals.

With 25 players on the roster, a problem that could arise is playing time for all of these players. As the limit of players on the field remains nine, the Eagles will have more than double that amount. A big goal for the team is for the players to buy into the coaches ideas, and be able to succeed. The coaching staff as a whole feels like its creativity, and its ability to put players in a position to succeed will be a strength. Goode even spoke of a shining example on how this could come to fruition for the Eagles.

“We met with every player at the end of the fall season, to talk about what we envisioned their roles to be. And it seemed like everyone understood and was in agreement with our vision of how they fit in. These kids were able to see firsthand as the Cubs provided a great road map to success, proving that if you actually have a deep, versatile roster, with more than nine starting-caliber players, than you can win.”